Saturday, May 8, 2010

Who Shot Rock & Roll? That question is the title for an exhibit of rock photography that is currently showing at the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, MA, after having started life at the Brooklyn Museum. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 9), I'll be leading a guided walking tour through the exhibit, offering insights on the way that photography allows us to trace a particular sort of visual history of rock, and how it allows us to reflect on the status of rock performers as public icons, on the one hand, and private individuals on the other (but whose privacy is something we want to peer into precisely because of their public stature). There are some great photos and great photographers on view in the exhibit. Here are four:

Bob Dylan on the streets of Liverpool, 1966, by Barry Feinstein

Fans outside Buckingham Palace fighting for a glimpse of the Beatles, 1965, by Central Press Ltd.

The Ramones at Eric's Club in Liverpool, 1977, by Ian Dickson.

Kurt Cobain at the Motor Sports International Garage, Seattle, 1990, by Ian Tilton.

Here's a link to info about the exhibit, and my tour tomorrow, which starts at 2 pm:


  1. Thanks for coming and providing lucid commentary. I never did buy whole cloth Christgau's interpretation of Hendrix's on-stage flamboyance as being entirely constructed for appeal to white rock audiences - he was booted from several backing gigs in his R&B-club days for upstaging the front man by playing with his teeth and behind his back (moves he probably picked up from Johnny "Guitar" Watson but which had a previous history after the electric guitar was introduced to the blues). The Monterey rituo-Strat burning was a chessboard move of one-upsmanship in a battle with The Who for festival-headline primacy.

    I enjoyed your presentation as well as your books. Thanks again.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Renfrew. I also don't fully buy Christgau's line on Hendrix at Monterey but I think it's a good source for getting a line on the kinds of feelings and questions that Hendrix stirred. I should have mentioned the competitive connection with the Who that Hendrix had at Monterey but it slipped my mind in the moment. And you're certainly right that his flamboyant moves had a longer history - back to T-Bone Walker and even Charley Patton.

  3. I hope you don't read the Hendrix/Who reference as a "gotcha" moment, Steve - it's not meant to be. Yours was a very informative overview well suited to the occasion and I certainly recognize that neither did time allow for an in-depth analysis or historical report of each scenario presented by specific photographs nor would such an approach be called for under the circumstances.

    I only get the rare opportunity to talk about this kind of thing, so I appreciate the forum.

  4. No, no sense of being "got" - just acknowledging that it's a good story and would have been worth recounting had it come to mind.